Monday, June 12, 2017

The Walk On Labeler

Here's a fun exercise to help teams exercise big moves and restraint at the same time.

Have two people do a scene, have them almost intentionally make the scene everyday life or non-specific. Have them hold back the name, where they are, what they are doing, or where they are working, or why they are there.  Have a walk on come on and label some part of the scene or as many parts of the scene as they want. The only rule for the walk on is that it can't be scene painting. They have to somehow be a part of the scene. Narration is a maybe move.

What should happen is that the two characters on stage should be able to find the restraint not very restraining. They may really relax into a grounded scene about details. This would be great. However, they are expecting the walk on.

The walk on should be looking for opportunities to really add to the scene. Rather than have the walkon change the interaction, it just focuses the interaction. Or maybe it just pulls the camera back a little to see more of what's going on. This walk on strategy forces walk ons not to take focus.

Why is this so important?

Too many times, improvisers come on stage with so little that the scene ends up being grounded with nothing else. I hate the label of grounding because it forces people to not play, to not make moves, to not have fun. If you're ever in a grounded scene, if it's just every day life, then it's not funny. If you watch the best players, they may be grounded but there is something weird going on, or maybe something just happened, or something isn't right. You may see the best improvisers talk about their life and how their family does this or that but when people laugh it's not about the life stuff it's about the weird stuff.

So, you can't depend on slice of life. If you do, you have to actively be okay with nothing happening and no laughs. Deep down, no one is okay with that.

But, if you're on stage and INTENTIONALLY holding back some details so that you DISCOVER your job, your location, your name. Then, you're using the grounded mentality to ACTIVELY find aspects of the character. Or your USING the groundedness to wait for the moment to make a BIG MOVE.

The key in this exercise is to be INTENTIONALLY grounding for effect and then knowing the big move is coming. When put into action, we should all be discovering the big moves or making big moves to discover more moves.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Improviser and the Actor

As I've been a part of the NYC improv community, I've found that a lot of the students taking part in improv are either actors or people who want to take acting. The remainder are a combination of people trying to meet new people and people trying to get over a fear. Admittedly, this is a huge generalization but for the purposes of this blog, it works.

On the one hand, you have acting teachers and agents recommending improv for actors to help with comedy or commercial work. On the other hand, you have improv teachers basically teaching people how to accept themselves and be comfortable with being themselves in front of other people.

In voiceover, you may do a million voices but when confronted with natural or conversational, you're more likely to just do your voice. In this aspect, Improv shines through. You're comfortable and your having fun. But, you need to know the basics of acting to get through it as well. Hitting certain words, being able to separate scripts into beats, using your body, those are all acting techniques.

So, unfortunately, the improviser and actor get closer and closer together to the point where most actors do improv and most improvisers have acted. The rare cases when they are successful in both is where you probably know the names of those famous people.

If you're looking to learn acting or get into voice over. Feel free to connect to my website Everything Voice Over.

Have a great day everyone!